Travel Morocco from the North to the South with Mint Tea Tours’ 6-day Sahara Tour from Tangier! You get the best plans to travel and explore in Morocco during this private tour with English-speaking driver, from Tangier which sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, to Fes, Morocco’s capital for traditional quality handicrafts, onto the golden sand dunes of Morocco’s Sahara desert and finally, the jetsetters’ favorite city, Marrakech.
Welcome to Morocco, the country that is distinguished by its Berber, Arab and European cultural influences, and a land with more than 3,000 years of rich history and unique culture.
Start your private journey in Morocco from Tangier; locals call it “the bride of the north”. During its rich and eventful history, Tangier was once ruled by Vandals, the Byzantine empire, Arabs, indigenous Moroccan Berbers, the Spanish and the Portuguese. It is the largest city in northern Morocco where the area is open to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Touristically speaking, the city is famous for its medina (old town). For many tourists, the medina of Tangier is a beautiful and charming maze of narrow streets on the hillside, whose atmosphere feels like the movie “Aladdin”. It is located above the city harbor and butts up against the modern part of Tangier. Within the medina you can find the 17th century kasbah which occupies the highest point and is considered an eye-opening insight into life in Tangier across the years. After you explore Tangier, drive through the Rif Mountains towards the small blue town of Chefchaouen.
Chefchaouen is known worldwide as little Santorini or the blue pearl. The city is more than 5 centuries old, and it was first inhabited by Moorish Muslims and Jews who escaped from Spain upon the Spanish inquisition of Al Andalus (Andalusia). Upon arrival to the blue town in afternoon, start your tour by reaching the main square, “Place Outa Al Hammam”, through the beautiful Andalusian blue alleys where you will most likely be inspired to take dozens of photos. In the middle of Outa Al Hammam stands the main entrance to the reddish kasbah with its magnificent garden, museum, prison and towers. Later, visit Ras El Maa River, the main source of water in the city which supplies the entire city with fresh, natural and drinkable water. Have a walk down by the cool river, and along the way, discover water-mills on which locals relied to grind their wheat, which used to be their number one activity for living. At the bottom of the river is the Portuguese bridge which was built by Portuguese prisoners who tried to invade the city.
Finally, we continue our drive towards Fes for overnight.
Fes is probably the most interesting city in Morocco. The city is full of wonders, history and harmony. Fes is consisted of two main parts, Fes el-Bali (“old Fes”) and Fes el-Jedid (“new Fes”). First we start our day from Fes el-Jedid, by visiting the famous golden gates of the king’s palace. The palace was constructed in the 14th century of neat and beautiful architecture. Even today it is still considered among the largest and the oldest in palaces in Morocco.
Not so far from the king’s palace is situated the Jewish mellah. “Mellah” is the typical name of traditional Jewish quarters. The mellah of Fes is the oldest among all other Jewish quarters in Morocco. The mellah was usually established next to the king’s palace so the Jews could feel safe under the personal protection of the king. Within the same neighborhood we will visit the Jewish cemetery and the Ibn Danan synagogue, which are recognized as a cultural treasure and an important piece of art of Moroccan Jewish heritage.
Next, after a walk through the well-preserved streets of the mellah, we enter the Bab Boujloud Gate, the famous blue gate of Fes. Once we enter the gate into the old medina, we will observe the green-tiled minaret of the Bou Inania Medersa, our next stop, jutting into the sky. The Bou Inania Medersa was built between 1351 and 1358, and functioned as both an educational institute and a mosque. Today it is still an active religious building, and it is one of the few mosques in Morocco that are open for all visitors, including those that are not Muslim, providing a unique experience for tourists. It is also one of the most stunning examples of Merenid architecture in the world.
Next, we leave the medina behind and we drive to El Borj of Fes, the fine fortress, which was built by Sultan Ahmed Al Mansour in 1582 to monitor the populace of Fes. From there, you can have a panoramic overview of the three parts of Fes.
We continue our short drive to reach the pottery and zellij tile cooperative. In this place, the production is totally handmade, relying on old techniques of how zellij and pottery is traditionally made. You may even be invited to have a try at making a ceramic pot in the traditional Moroccan way and experience how challenging this art form is. This place is also a perfect shopping opportunity for those who admire fancy quality handmade Moroccan goods.
Later we return to the medina for our walking tour. We enter the old medina of Fes el Bali, the center of manufacturing of all local goods. We walk through local markets of all kinds, selling fruits, vegetables, delicious local pastries and different types of craft and workshops, such as Nejjarine and Seffarine squares. We stop at the University of Al-Qarawiyyin that was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, a woman who came as a refuge, fleeing her homeland of Tunisia for Morocco, in 859 AD. UNESCO considers it to be the oldest university in the world whose libraries have several extremely valuable documents dating from c. 780 A.D.
Later we visit Fes’ tannery. The oldest and largest of all traditional tanneries of leather in Morocco and the world, Chouara Tannery dates back to medieval times. The sight of the multi-colored dyeing vats in the central courtyard of the tannery is indeed a unique picture that should not be missed. The tannery is famous for its intense smell. Of course, “the smell is free… but if you want to buy, you have to pay” is the phrase that merchants in the tannery often say.
Not far from the tannery lies our last destination for today’, the carpet workshop and market where you will learn about everything concerning the different types of Moroccan carpets, scarves and local handicrafts.
Erfoud is the ultimate destination today, but along the way, we will make some stops and explore the charm and beauty of Ifrane and Midelt. Ifrane was built by the French in the mid-1930s mainly for its strategic location in the mid-Atlas, which makes the atmosphere of the little town feels like an alpine resort. For this reason, Ifrane has earned the nickname “Little Switzerland”. Ifrane is also famous for its fresh and clean air, scrubbed and tree-lined streets, as well as the mountains peaks which are often well-adorned with snow in winter months. Next stop before reaching the final destination is Midelt, which is known for its fossils and rocks. Midelt is located between the Middle and the High Atlas Mountain ranges, where the landscape offers some breathtaking views.
Evening arrival in Erfoud – make sure to relax and refresh for your upcoming Moroccan Sahara Desert adventure in the morning.
Today starts a new chapter in our journey in Morocco, the chapter of Sahara Desert. Erfoud, being the closest point to the Sahara desert, acquired the nickname “Gate of Sahara Desert”. Start your morning in Erfoud by discovering the local art and craft that makes use of fossilized stone in a very impressive and elegant way. In afternoon, meet a local 4×4 driver who will take you to Merzouga and into the Sahara desert where its magnificent orange and golden sand dunes can reach as high as 150 meters. There, you will have one of the most stunning experiences in your life that will stay with you forever. Start by riding your own camel through the dunes, until you reach a stunning point of view where sunset makes you feel like you are in another world with all of its glory. Another no less remarkable experience is stargazing upon nightfall, where you are likely to be treated to millions of stars which make the sky look like a beautiful painting. This view will most likely make a tear stream unconsciously down your face.
Get an early start today so as to not miss the Sahara’s magical sunrise, and then, once ready, join the driver to start today’s adventure. It is known about Morocco to be home for a numerous of stunning palm groves. Today’s first stop is palm grove of Ziz Valley, where rivers flow through the dry expanses bring with them flourishing belts of green palmeries, which stretch into the distance for as far as the eye can see. The valley’s golden prehistoric walls towering above, and the dusty ancient kasbahs & ksar dotting the palm groves makes the place a pearl within the oasis. Next stop in today’s trip is Todra Gorges, which is an impressive natural oasis in the mountains where one of the most spectacular canyons is situated. Eventually, arrive to the appealing little town of Boumalne Dades, which is believed to be one of the most attractive Moroccan touristic cities. The town is famous for its beautiful and charming landscapes where you can also visit the historical sites of Kasbahs of Boumalne Dades and The Kasbah of Mohdach as well as exploring the local traditional art.
Today our adventure south in the Sahara takes us to a new region which is most famous amongst film makers. The region of Ouarzazate and Ait Benhaddou became famous as the “Hollywood of Africa” for being the backdrop of a number of worldwide movies such as “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Gladiator” among many others. Upon arrival to Ouarzazate, wander around Taourirt Kasbah, Ouarzazate’s main historical attraction. There, explore the maze-like passageways, steep steps and dizzying ramparts in addition to recognizable features such as the harem quarters and palace kitchens and then drive for another 30 minutes to discover Ait Ben-Haddou, a living example of the outstanding traditional architecture of the Moroccan culture in the south. After exploring it all, start the last drive towards Marrakech, the final stop in the trip.
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Abdullah provided terrific and personalized service. He made sure we enjoyed non-touristy days of cookouts and picnics as well as all the major tourist destinations. We felt safe at all times. And he made the trip extremely special by discovering what “our song” was and playing it for us to have a romantic dance on a cliff over the ocean. Abdullah made sure we were never lost and always taken care of. I cannot stress enough how Abdullah got to know us and what our travel dreams and hopes were – and he made them happen.”
Thank you Jamal from Mint Tea Tours for making our Morocco trip special.